Here are top national and world news stories from The Associated Press.
Ohio's auto-industry rebound helps Obama move ahead in a state Romney badly needs
VANDALIA, Ohio — Ohio has emerged as the presidential race's undisputed focus. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are making multiple stops this week alone in a state that's trending toward the president, endangering Romney's White House hopes.
The popularity of Obama's auto industry bailout and a better-than-average local economy are undermining Romney's call for Ohioans to return to their GOP-leaning ways, which were crucial to George W. Bush's two elections. Ohio has 18 electoral votes, seventh most in the nation, and no Republican has won the White House without carrying it.
Romney is scrambling to reverse the polls that show Obama ahead. On Tuesday, he made the first of his four planned Ohio stops this week, joining his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, for a rally near Dayton. On Wednesday, Obama will visit the college towns of Kent and Bowling Green, and Romney's bus tour will stop in the Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo areas.
"If this president persists on the road of making it harder and harder for small businesses to grow and thrive, he's going to slowly but surely weaken our economy and turn us into Greece," Romney told supporters Tuesday in Vandalia. He said the Obama administration has put government between patients and their doctors, and is picking winners and losers in private business.
"That is not the America that built Ohio!" Romney declared.
Confronting global violence, Obama presses world leaders to reject extremism
UNITED NATIONS — Confronting global tumult and Muslim anger, President Barack Obama exhorted world leaders Tuesday to stand fast against violence and extremism, arguing that protecting religious rights and free speech must be a universal responsibility and not just an American obligation.
"The impulse towards intolerance and violence may initially be focused on the West, but over time it cannot be contained," Obama warned the U.N. General Assembly in an urgent call to action underscored by the high stakes for all nations.
The gloomy backdrop for Obama's speech — a world riven by deadly protests against an anti-Islamic video, by war in Syria, by rising tension over a nuclear Iran and more — marked the dramatic shifts that have occurred in the year since the General Assembly's last ministerial meeting, when democratic uprisings in the Arab world created a sense of excitement and optimism. Obama had tough words for Iran and condemned anew the violence in Syria as Bashar al-Assad tries to retain power.
Six weeks before the U.S. presidential election, an unmistakable campaign element framed Obama's speech as well: The president's Republican rival, Mitt Romney, has tried to cast him as a weak leader on the world stage, too quick to apologize for American values.
Romney, speaking at a Clinton Global Initiative forum just miles from the U.N., avoided direct criticism of Obama in deference to the apolitical settings of the day, but he said he hoped to return a year later "as president, having made substantial progress" on democratic reforms.
AP Interview: Iran's Ahmadinejad pushes new world order
NEW YORK — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that a new world order needs to emerge, away from American "bullying" and domination.
Ahmadinejad spoke to The Associated Press in a wide-ranging interview on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly — his last as president of Iran.
He also discussed solutions for Syria, dismissed the question of Iran's nuclear ambition and claimed that, despite Western sanctions, his country is better off than it was when he took office in 2005.
"God willing, a new order will come together and we'll do away with everything that distances us," Ahmadinejad said. "Now even elementary school kids throughout the world have understood that the United States government is following an international policy of bullying."
"Bullying must come to an end. Occupation must come to an end," he added.
UN chief Ban demands international action to stop war in Syria
UNITED NATIONS — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon demanded international action to stop the war in Syria, telling a somber gathering of world leaders Tuesday that the 18-month conflict had become "a regional calamity with global ramifications."
In sharp contrast to the U.N. chief, President Barack Obama pledged U.S. support for Syrians trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad — "a dictator who massacres his own people."
Opening the U.N. General Assembly's annual ministerial meeting, Ban said in his state of the world speech that he was sounding the alarm about widespread insecurity, inequality and intolerance in many countries.
Putting the spotlight on Syria, the U.N. chief said "the international community should not look the other way as violence spirals out of control."
"We must stop the violence and flows of arms to both sides, and set in motion a Syrian-led transition as soon as possible," he said.
Tipping point? Many fans believe replacement NFL refs finally cost someone a win
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Entire stadiums have booed them. The Patriots' Bill Belichick grabbed one by the arm and the Redskins' Kyle Shanahan was so hopping mad he followed one into the tunnel after the game.
But it took the team that Vince Lombardi built, playing in a "Monday Night Football" headliner, to put the NFL's latest labor headache — locked-out officials and their struggling, under-fire replacements — front and center for the nation. Even President Barack Obama, a Bears fan slogging through a re-election campaign, weighed in Tuesday, saying, "We've got to get our refs back."
Is this where the NFL's lockout of its regular refs comes to an end? On a call that many believe cost the Packers and their Cheesehead-wearing followers a win at Seattle?
The NFL stood fast, giving no sign Tuesday that it was close to reaching a new labor pact with the referees' union. But the outrage grew beyond NFL players (risking fines for speaking out) like Falcons tight end Anthony Gonzalez, who tweeted: "How do you miss that? Pop Warner refs would have gotten that right."
LeBron James tweeted he was "sick" about it, and Dirk Nowitzki said he was "not gonna watch another nfl game until real refs" return, while fans pretty much everywhere except Seattle concluded that Green Bay was robbed. Some threatened to boycott until order is restored and others tried to pull the plug on their NFL satellite television packages, only to be told that they can't cancel in the middle of the season.
The NFL, meanwhile, put its stamp of approval on the still-smoldering outcome of the Green Bay-Seattle game: Wrong call. Right review. Wrong team still wins. Seahawks 14, Packers 12.
Death of Libyan rebel hailed for capture of Gadhafi brings calls for vengeance
MISRATA, Libya — One of the young Libyan rebels credited with capturing Moammar Gadhafi in a drainage ditch nearly a year ago died Tuesday of injuries after being kidnapped, beaten and slashed by the late dictator's supporters — the latest victim of persistent violence and instability in the North African country.
The death of Omran Shaaban, who had been hospitalized in France, raised the prospect of even more violence and score-settling, with the newly elected National Congress authorizing police and the army to use force if necessary to apprehend those who abducted the 22-year-old and three companions in July near the town of Bani Walid.
Libya is battling lingering pockets of support for the old regime, and its government has been unable to rein in armed militias in a country rife with weapons. Earlier this month, a demonstration at the U.S. Consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi turned violent, killing four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador.
Shaaban was praised as a "dutiful martyr" by the National Congress, although his family says he never received a promised reward of 1 million Libyan dinars ($800,000) for capturing Gadhafi on Oct. 20, 2011, in the former leader's hometown of Sirte. The eccentric dictator was killed later that day by revolutionary fighters.
The Libyan government said it would honor Shaaban with a funeral befitting a hero. His body was greeted at the airport in his hometown of Misrata by more than 10,000 people for a procession to a soccer stadium for funeral prayers.